Update for 7/17/19

New review today for Urscape #1 by William Cardini. What could possibly happen in a second issue of this series? Who knows!

Cardini, William – Urscape #1


Urscape #1

Sometimes I wonder what would happen to me if I gathered all the William Cardini comics I’ve picked up over the years, took an afternoon and read them all in a row. I’m honestly not sure what that would do to a person. I mean that in the best possible way, of course; comic-induced madness always seemed like a likely fate for me. This is the story of… you know what? I’m cheating on this one. Here’s the description lifted from his website: ” The Miizzzard descends into the Urscape and gets slabbed. Take a psychedelic, enigmatic journey with the Miizzz through 20 pages of textural, intricate drawings at the speed of one panel per page.” Yep! Trying to read one of his books quickly, without taking some time on each page to soak in everything that’s happening, is really a waste of an amazing comic. Can you describe it to a friend over lunch? Not coherently, no. But reading his comics tweaks that certain something in your brain that’s convinced that other worlds and realities are always there, just out of the corner of your eye. If you’re interested in a peek into that world, this guy is one of the few people out there who seems able to see it clearly. Give it a look, see if you still perceive the world entirely the same way when you’re done. $6

Update for 7/15/19

New review today for Palm Tree by Grant Thomas, as there don’t seem to be any laws against reviewing an Easter comic in July.

Thomas, Grant – Palm Tree


Palm Tree

This is a wee thing of a mini comic, which means it’ll most likely be a short review. It’s been decades since I was raised religious (Roman Catholic), so I can remember the gist of the story in this comic, but I’ll get enough wrong so that this might be funny/enraging to anybody who takes it seriously. Palm Sunday is a Christian holiday. I think it’s before Easter? Followers wave palm fronds to signify… something something Jesus. How did I do? Eh, that’s why Google exists; if you’re curious, go nuts with the searching. Anyway, this comic is the silent tale of Grant (or a stand-in) getting a palm tree, caring for it, having some issues with it and finally having it grow into a full tree. There’s a brief shot of Jesus with people waving palm fronds at him, so I guess it’s triumphant? Again, I’m long out of the religious world. Anyway, this would probably mean a lot to a religious person in your life, maybe as a stocking stuff, but for Easter. You know, this is actually small enough to fit into a plastic egg, with a little creative folding. Perfect!

Update for 7/11/19

New review today for Tortilla #5 by Jaime Crespo. If you’re around Columbus he’ll be here September 26th through 29th for Cartoon Crossroads this year. I’m still kicking myself for missing the one last year, and I won’t be making that mistake again…

Crespo, Jamie – Tortilla #5


Tortilla #5

Jaime has a new website! I just wanted to make that clear for everybody who only reads a sentence or two of my rambling reviews. And this is his first series to get to five issues, so congrats to him! He mentions in his intro that he attempted to make this an all humor comic, as he knows that some of his stuff gets heavy. Despite the fact that I usually love his stuff, every time an artist says something like that my immediate reaction is “I’ll be the judge of that” and, well, what can I say. I laughed out loud at the end of three of the stories and grinned at the end of the fourth, so I’d call that a successful humor comic. Stories in here include aliens demanding to see our leader (and while I usually hate giving away the gag on a sample page, this was just too good for me to resist), a tale from his childhood about him and a friend trying to avoid a bully that ends with the bully throwing a spear at them as they were fleeing (and probably my biggest laugh of the book), how he came to accept the spider in his house (OK, maybe the final panel of this one was the biggest laugh in the book), and a story about the teenage years of Jesus that he held off on publishing until his very Catholic mother passed away. So if you usually like his stuff but find him a bit heavy, this comic is for you! If you have good taste and already liked his stuff, you already know that you need this in your life. Oh, and if you managed to get a copy of Tortilla #1, he apparently lost the original artwork and the comic is out of print, so you might be sitting on a goldmine. Billionaires buy comics too, right? $4.50

Update for 7/9/19

New review today for The Ghost Pirate #1 by Michael Aushenker and Marcus Collar. Should I be making a pirate pun here? It feels like I should, but I’m going to resist that urge. You’re welcome!

Aushenker, Michael & Collar, Marcus – The Ghost Pirate #1


The Ghost Pirate #1

Are you interested in ghosts and/or pirates? If so, I’d say the title has probably already convinced you to give this one a look. If not, there’s an awful lot in here about a ghost pirate, as you may have guessed,so maybe it’s not for you? What’s that, you’d like my impressions before you make a decision? OK, but just so we’re clear, I am mostly not interested in ghosts and/or pirates, so bear that in mind. This one starts off in 1775 with a group of British soldiers defending an island. A pirate shows up, murders almost everybody, digs up his old treasure, murders every other pirate who helped him dig it up, then opens up the box. Very bad things immediately happen, to the pirate (Molitar) and the lone British survivor of the massacre. From there we go straight to modern day, and a good chunk of the rest of the book is spent introducing the characters, what their lives are like, worries, motivations… character building! It’s a great idea in a first issue, and kudos to them for doing it when so many first issues are about bang for your buck. There’s a fair amount of that in here too, don’t get me wrong. Once our heroes move to the island a string of deaths happen, which leads to the mandatory creepy old resident telling them the story of the pirate and the curse that befell the island after that. Huh, I can’t remember the last time I used “befell” in a sentence. Feels like I should stop there. It’s an intriguing beginning, and I still have a lot more questions than answers. If the price I saw on Michael’s website is correct, $12 is a little steep for the first issue of a series. Yes, I know that is costs more to produce and distribute your own comics, but that’s a graphic novel price, not a comic price. But if you’re a fan of the subject matter and don’t mind the cost, you’d probably get a lot out of this. $12

Update for 7/5/19

New review today for Rodeo #1 by Evan Salazar, have a great weekend everybody!

Salazar, Evan – Rodeo #1


Rodeo #1

A peek behind the curtain: generally speaking these days (2019) I review a few comics on the weekend, set them to appear during the week and go about my life. Usually I read a few comics on Saturday or Sunday, see if I have anything mildly compelling or interesting to say about them, then say it regardless. Magic! Anyway, I say all this to point out that I read this one a week ago and I’ve been bouncing the main story around in my brain that whole time. Does that mean I’ll have something especially profound to say? Eh, probably not. But the fact that it’s wedged into my brain (that’s already chock full o’ comics) is notable. Hi, there’s a comic I’m supposed to be talking about! The main story is about a fictional (?) family or a mom, dad and daughter. One day the mother leaves “on a trip,” nobody will talk about it and on that same day a mysterious visitor with a head bandage showed up on their doorstep. Our hero (the daughter, Abigail) tries to get to the bottom of just who this guy is, using increasingly esoteric methods. Until one day, it’s no longer and issue, and she’s left even more confused that before. The kicker puts the story into a whole new light, but I’m not going to give that away here. There are also a few other short pieces in here, one about a man cleaning a mall while he’s trying to compose the perfect sentence in his head (all creative types can relate to working while your mind is a million miles away), another about a cat with regrets, and a brief philosophical discussion by two… creatures on the back cover. The comic looks fantastic, the main story in particular (but really the whole thing) is great, give it a shot why don’t you? $5

Update for 7/3/19

New review today for The Rain is Slow Coming by Alex Nall, as “hey, all these comics have kids in them” week continues!

Nall, Alex – The Rain is Slow Coming


The Rain is Slow Coming

I’m not proud of it, but the twist in this one got me. Sure, if you think about it for a few seconds it doesn’t make sense, but it’s the sign of a great storyteller if you forget all about that kind of thing while you’re in the story. This is the tale of a farmer and his tiny daughter, maybe five years old tops. His wife has died in an accident and he’s in danger of losing his farm because he can no longer afford it and can’t avoid the bill collectors forever. Meanwhile, his daughter is oblivious to all of this and is fascinated with crocodiles, watching that segment of Peter Pan over and over again. So one day they’re out on the farm, the dad is waxing philosophical and the daughter wanders off to the pond. Once she’s there she thinks she sees a crocodile, but it’s only a frog. She loses her footing, tumbles down almost into the water… and that’s when she realizes that something else is in the water. It’s a riveting and oddly haunting story, so give it a shot why don’t you! $6

Update for 7/1/19

New review today for Things Parents Say to Kids by Steve Feldman. Sorry about the lack of reviews last week, real life can do that sometimes.

Feldman, Steve – Things Parents Say to Kids


Things Parents Say to Kids

When is it OK to lie to your kids? Is the Santa and Easter Bunny stuff OK, but not real life events? Is it always OK if you’re “doing it for their own good”? Or is it never OK? It’s all abstract to childless little old me, but that’s the subject Steve explores in this issue, using a tale from his childhood and one from when he was raising his daughter. The first story had a helpful page where he nailed down exactly how old he was when the story took place, then his mom made a fantastical promise/threat to him, and the lesson stuck with him. Or did it? Later, when he was trying to convince his daughter to brush her teeth every morning, he told her that going outside with unbrushed teeth would kill the trees. As she was three, she believed this completely, and his problem was solved. Except, well, now he’d demonstrably lied to his kid, so how does that effect them long term? It was a good idea to use the dichotomy of his own childhood to compare to raising his own child (that Maya Angelou quote was brilliant too), and it’s a thought-provoking little mini comic. Parents, maybe you could learn something here. Other people, this might remind you of the times your parents lied to you as a kid, and that’s always fun! $2

Update for 7/21/19

New review today for Pico #2 by Various Artists. Happy weekend everybody!

Various Artists – Pico #2


Pico #2

Feels like it’s been ages since I had to go with “Various Artists” for the author name but, well, the premise of this book is apparently that it comes out several times a year with different artists every time. And since it’s put out by something called “Giggle-O-Gram Studios” and I can’t bring myself to put that in the title line, here we are. And I’m a little annoyed that the only website I can find is a Patreon page; not that there’s anything wrong with asking for help, I just generally prefer to link to the fundraising page and a more neutral website. Ah well, can’t have everything! There are three stories in this issue. First up is a story about a movie star crocodile by the aforementioned studio with the terrible name. It looks like it’s continued from the last issue and continues into the next one, but this chapter deals with our hero (or maybe villain? Again, missed the first chapter) watching a procession of other animals coming out of the shower after filming and finding out that each and every one of them is a fraud. Charles Brubaker is up next with a tale as old as time: the first experience of a young child with coffee ice cream. Finally there’s Kaoru Greendrake with a twisting tale about a passport from a made-up land… but what’s if it’s real after all? It’s an interesting mix of stories, but if you’re going to continue one of them from issue to issue some sort of synopsis would be helpful. Other than that, give it a look, see what you think. There’s always room for another regularly produced comics anthology!

Update for 6/19/19

New review today for So Buttons #9 by Jonathan Baylis and various artists. Hey, just in case I haven’t said this recently, I’m taking new comics for reviews. Little to no waiting! Unless everybody sends their comics at once, in which case never mind. But if only YOU send your comics…

Baylis, Jonathan – So Buttons #9


So Buttons #9

Hm, this looks like a comic with one writer, a handful of artists and a number of different slice of life stories… it’s a new issue of So Buttons! Since the first thing I read of Jonathan’s was somehow the collected edition of the first 8 issues I was spoiled early, but since he can’t put out a new graphic novel every time one really solid issue will have to do. Stories this time around deal with Jonathan working up the nerve to call Dick Smith (the special effects legend who worked on the original Exorcist movie, among many others), remembering sandwiches past, how his dad’s name was changed on accident (this is also a tribute to Harvey Pekar with Noah Van Sciver doing the art), more details about his time working at Valiant comics in the 90’s, and the time that his kid proved that he “sang” better songs than his old man. Throw in a few illustrations from other artists and there’s your issue! If you were scared off by the price of the collected edition, maybe give this one a shot. It’s $5, it’s a solid demonstration of his skills and it’s full of great stories. What more do you need? $5

Update for 6/17/19

New review today for Forever and Everything #4 by Kyle Bravo. And if you’re curious, yeah, you should probably watch Chernobyl on HBO. It’ll haunt your dreams, but it’s great.

Bravo, Kyle – Forever and Everything #4


Forever and Everything #4

The saga of the growing children continues! OK, it’s a stretch to call raising children a “saga,” but I’m sticking with it. This one starts out with Kyle bringing home baby Polly, their new daughter, so I clearly missed an issue or two. The format of the comics themselves seems the same: Kyle uses as many panels as he needs to tell his story, then puts up a title card and moves onto the next story, with all of the pages getting filled in this manner. I’m still a big fan of this idea, of not boxing yourself in to a set number of panels per strip per day. My only quibble is that I wish he’d put a date on each strip. Not essential (the strips are obviously in sequential order already), but helpful. Subjects in here include adjusting to life with a new baby, keeping up with the other child (Jamie), Kyle getting back to work after paternal leave, his house getting broken into, why we have to wear pants when we go outside, and getting beaten up by a baby. I was impressed that he even mentioned politics; so few cartoonists do any more. He has to deal with getting a racist text from an aunt, making the decision to not attend a July 4th celebration due to too many racist relatives, and just dealing with the fact that that gross thing is still president. It’s June 2019 as I’m writing this, so fill in his name if you’d like. He also makes an idle observation that perhaps he needs more therapy to deal with his relatives more easily, to which I say: don’t bother! You’re in the right, they’re racist as can be, and you continuing to go and be in their presence, striving all the while to make THEM feel better about themselves, is the absolute wrong way to handle it. The only leverage you have to get them to better themselves (as their child, nephew, grandchild, cousin, whatever) is your presence. If they want to see and be around those adorable children, they have to give up the racism. Seems fair to me, but that’s just my opinion. Meanwhile, if there’s anybody out there keeping track of such things, this is one of those diary strip comics that I thoroughly enjoy. There are plenty that I don’t, so that’s notable! $6